“We must keep freedom alive,” President Trump says

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Reina Makimura

On Tuesday Feb. 5, President Donald Trump delivered his second State of the Union Address. Speaking for about an hour and a half, Trump spoke about immigration, the economy, socialism and more. According to Nielsen Holdings, a data collection company, 46.8 million people watched his address.
 
In attendance were Congressional and Cabinet leaders and their guests. One of the most talked about names among Trump’s guests was Joshua Trump, a sixth grader who reported being bullied because of his last name. Trump also invited the family of Gerald and Sharon David, who were murdered by an illegal immigrant. Other guests included veterans from World War II, a survivor from a Nazi concentration camp and survivors from the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue.
 
Trump opened his speech with a call for bipartisanship.
 
“Millions of our fellow citizens are watching us, gathered in this great chamber, hoping we will govern not as two parties, but as one nation,” Trump said.
 
This unifying rhetoric is abnormal for the controversial president, however it is welcomed after the polarizing 35 day long government shutdown. However, despite this call, partisanship was extremely obvious in the chamber of the House of Representatives, where the speech was given.
 
Trump covered some extremely divisive topics during his speech, including immigration and the border wall which held the government in stasis for 35 days.
 
“Now is the time for Congress to show the world that America is committed to ending illegal immigration and putting the ruthless coyotes, cartels, drug dealers and human traffickers out of business,” Trump said.
 
Trump also commented on the migrant caravan arriving in the US, which was the subject of controversy during the midterm elections. Trump referred to their arrival as a “tremendous onslaught” on areas of the border with little protection.
 
In contrast to these comments, Trump acknowledged the many legal immigrants in America.
 
“Legal immigrants enrich our nation and strengthen our society in countless ways,” Trump said. “I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally.”
 
Trump continued on to state that he would again ask Congress for funding for his border wall, saying that “walls work and walls save lives.” The border wall has been a staple of his presidency. This was a prominent reminder that Congress has until Feb. 15, 2019 to pass a budget for this fiscal year.
 
Another notable thing Trump will add to his budget is money for eliminate HIV. He claims that, with his budget, HIV will be completely eradicated within 10 years. Alongside HIV, Trump is hoping to end childhood cancer.
 
Trump invited ten year old Grace Eline, a survivor of brain cancer, to join him at the State of the Union. She was a patient at St. Jude Children’s hospital and completed chemotherapy there.
 
“Many childhood cancers have not seen new therapies in decades,” Trump said. “My budget will ask Congress for $500 million over the next 10 years to fund this critical life-saving research.”
 
While eliminating HIV and childhood cancer are bipartisan issues, there are still controversial points from his speech aside from immigration. For example, Trump campaigned for school choice, paid family leave and he denounced the abortion bill in New York.
 
The abortion bill in question was passed in New York on Jan. 22, 2019. It allows abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy if the child is not able to survive, or if the mother’s life is in danger. This decision must be made by a licensed and certified health care practitioner.
 
“Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth,” Trump said. “I am asking Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb.”
 
The accusatory and angry tone with which Trump said this was a point of much controversy.
 
Another major point from Trump’s speech was his comment on national security. He again stated that he was withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty. This treaty is an agreement between the US and Russia that states that both countries will reduce missile capabilities. Trump stated that he would consider renegotiate a treaty, but otherwise would like to “outspend and out-innovate all others.”
 
Further points concerning international affairs were his statements on North Korea.
 
“If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea,” Trump said.
 
He announced a second summit between him and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-Un on Feb. 27 and 28. The meeting will be in Hanoi, Vietnam. Other international affairs include his support of Juan Guaidó, who declared himself interim president of Venezuela and his condemnation of Venezuela’s official president, Nicolás Maduro. He also reaffirmed his “America First” policy.
 
In domestic policies, Trump emphasized accomplishments from his two years as president. There has been criminal justice reform, the economy is continuing to expand and unemployment fell to 3.7% in December. It again rose in January, likely due to the shutdown, which Trump did not mention. He did, however, mention a tax cut for working families, despite reports of dissatisfaction from those which received a lower tax cut than expected.
 
While championing the economy, Trump briefly mentioned the investigation into his possible collusion with Russia.
 
“An economic miracle is taking place in the United States and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous, partisan investigations,” Trump said. “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.”
 
This comment is a jab at the investigation headed by Robert Mueller. Though he did not outright call for its cancellation, he is clearly upset about its continuation. However, since the Democratic party gained the majority in the House of Representatives, it is unlikely that any kind of investigation will be stopped.
 
Overall, the speech has garnered mixed reactions. Some focused on Trump’s crooked tie, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s clapping, while others focused on fact-checking the entire speech. Another point of conversation was the sea of white which Democratic women wore, paying homage to suffragettes.
 
Trump addressed his speech later, in a speech at a rally in El Paso, Texas.
 
“Some people said it was a great speech,” Trump said. “Some people said, really, a great speech.”